In October of 2018, I began struggling with what I thought was an upper respiratory infection. After multiple trips to urgent care, I was told they could no longer treat me.
In December I went to the ER for chest, back pain and shortness of breath. That night a CT scan imaged a large tumor in my left lung. After two weeks of hospitalization, I was given a definitive diagnosis of stage 4 ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer in January.
Soon after I started treatment. I am currently taking targeted therapy and have completed three rounds of radiation and surgery to remove my adrenal glands.
Prior to my diagnosis, I was 46 and healthy. My favorite activities were hiking, traveling, and spending time learning to train my dog. I felt like one day I was healthy and the next day I was a sick person. Over my lifetime, I'd had minimal exposure to environmental risk factors. My only risk factor was having lungs.
A lung cancer diagnosis caught me off guard and was the last thing I suspected. I have been fortunate, however, to have a large support network and the ability to seek treatment at a premier cancer research center. These two factors have contributed to an excellent prognosis as well as a quality of life I can enjoy.
In the course of learning to live with lung cancer, I have realized that not everyone has the same access to care and support. It has driven me to want to help change perceptions of lung cancer and changes awareness of what cancer care can be.